I had hoped to be writing this about the Spurs vs. Heat, but it is just as relevant in a Thunder vs. Heat series. There is a lot at stake this NBA Finals. It will have some long term consequences for the sport, I think, at least at the professional level. It should be an exciting series regardless, with plenty of star power (Lebron, Durant, Wade, Westbrook, Bosh). But what really makes it interesting is that it will be a clash of philosophies. Can you build championships around a few egotistical superstars and scrubs (The Heat), or do you still need a true team mentality to go all the way (The Thunder). I say this works with the Thunder as well as The Spurs because The Thunder have been modeled after San Antonio's organization. Several of its top brass worked their way up through Popovich's system, and they are trying to recreate it in OKC. From an unselfish superstar (Durant) to having a minimum of drama and smartly keeping that "we're a small market" chip on their shoulder, OKC is SA Jr. Will Miami be the model, or will it be OKC? The Mavericks went a long way last season in proving that it takes a team, and a second trouncing of The Heat this season will take the point even further.
Of course I can't stand The Heat. From Lebron's classless prime time exit from Cleveland (and for being tone deaf to the criticisms for months afterwards) to the garrish pep rally The Heatles threw for themselves, guaranteeing multiple championships, as Stan Van Gundy commented, "before they even practiced together." There is so much to hate, they made it easy. It was a Yankees or Cowboys level of arrogance and entitlement, but without the history to fall back on. OKC, on the other hand, prides itself on team play. Durant and Westbrook know they can't do it alone, and so they rely on their excellent role players like Serge Ibaka. And any team with the 6th Man of the Year is indicative of a team that understands the importance of depth (again, Harden can be paralleled with 6th man Spur star Ginobili in many ways, both are good enough to be starters, but instead relish their roles as deadly leaders of the second unit).
So I will be rooting for the Thunder because I really like them. But also, because I love basketball. Because I appreciate the game as a team sport, not as an individual endeavor. And I appreciate humility.
Prediction: Thunder in 6.